The chief executive of European aerospace giant Airbus says the plane maker will sue airlines that refuse to take aircraft they have ordered and are ready to be delivered in an escalating row over who should bare the brunt of the economic toll inflicted by the Corona crisis. Guillaume Faury did not name what airlines were at risk of being hauled into court and cautioned that legal action would be a last resort.
“It will remain, I hope, the exception because we always try to find a different route than going to court,” Faury said in an interview with Politico.
“But if and when airlines – and it’s happening – have no other choice than fully defaulting and not proposing something better than nothing, or are not willing to do it, then (lawsuits) will happen,” he continued.
Faury said some airlines had even refused to take phone calls from Airbus at the height of the crisis. In May, Airbus delivered just 24 new aircraft and recorded zero new orders throughout the entire month – the second time in four months that the aircraft manufacturer hadn’t found any buyers.
Many airlines believe it could take at least two to three years for travel demand to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and are planning for their aircraft fleets to be significantly smaller in the years ahead. Even by 2024, Lufthansa estimate it’s fleet will be 100 planes smaller than it was just a few months ago.
The one hope for aircraft manufacturers like Airbus, short of a miraculous ‘V’ shaped recovery in travel demand, is that airlines choose to take delivery of new and more fuel-efficient aircraft which will help them save costs.
Earlier this week, the chief executive of Qatar Airways said he would simply not do business with Airbus in the future if it refused to defer or delay the airline’s massive aircraft order. “They have no other alternative to oblige and if they make it difficult to oblige we will keep them in mind and we will not do business with them again,” Akbar Al Baker said in an interview with Reuters.
Qatar Airways has 50 single-aisle A321neo’s and 27 A350-100 aircraft valued at $366 million each on order with the Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer.
Airbus has warned of mass redundancies across its business as new orders dry up and production output is cut. Rival aircraft manufacturer, Boeing has already laid off nearly 7,000 employees out of a total of 16,000 that will be made redundant because of the pandemic.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.